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The Art of Conservation
Through the Starr Center’s Explore America summer internship program, art and art history major Anna Zastrow ’17 is working at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute in Suitland, Maryland.
Reading about the past is one thing, conserving it is another. The latter is part of alumna Anna Zastrow’s every day.
As an intern at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute this summer, Zastrow is working with the senior object conservator on an inventory project.
“We’re going cabinet by cabinet, pulling out all the samples that they’ve gathered over the last 30-odd years, and then photographing them to document,” says Zastrow, who graduated in May with a dual major in anthropology and art and art history, as well as a minor in chemistry.
Zastrow has previously held several conservation internships, but says this one is different.
“The inventory project is great because I get to look at all the old treatments and get a sense of how objects are handled,” she says.
This is Zastrow’s second time participating in Explore America. Last summer, she was placed at the Maryland State Archives, where she handled paper conservation—another of the major branches of conservation.
Of painting, paper, and object conservation, her interest lies mostly with objects. She especially appreciated working with African art objects, obtained from the Smithsonian African Art Museum when they moved to their new location. Zastrow pulled them all out and photographed them individually. After finding out that two pieces in the collection were slightly broken, she will be the one gluing them back together.
Her internship at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Institute has also piqued her interest in archeological sites.
“I’m meeting a lot of really cool people and learning about the different areas of conservation, which I haven’t had a chance to do in the past,” she says.
So far, she says, it’s been a great opportunity. Explore America has given her access to a highly-coveted position with a prestigious national institution.
“The Starr Center has a foot in the door,” she says, “giving you the edge you sometimes need to get into places like the Smithsonian.”